Post Election Letter

Dear Grace Chicago members and friends.

The following is a letter from the consistory, a reflection on the presidential election. Given the raw emotions that many are feeling this week, we felt that it was important to say something, even knowing that it would be imperfect.

This week, even more than usual, I have felt the weight and the privilege of being a pastor and friend to all people, regardless of their political persuasion. Critical to a faithful presentation of the gospel is to recognize that the only political sovereign who will unite all people is Jesus, and to live as if that were true. When we gather around the communion table we make a picture of that truth. This week, in particular, I look forward to meeting each of you at that communion table, as we offer the true sign of hope to one another and to our broken world: communion in Christ.

Grace and Peace,



Dear Grace Chicago Community and Friends,

The peace of the Lord be with you!

This week’s presidential election results reflect the deep divisions and profound cynicism of the American public around issues related to our political culture.

“For the first time in surveys dating to 1992, majorities in both parties express not just unfavorable but very unfavorable views of the other party. And today, sizable shares…. <about half> …. of both Democrats and Republicans say the other party stirs feelings of not just frustration, but fear and anger.” (Pew Study: Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016, p.1)

Another research project found that: “‘Two- thirds of the American public (67%) have little to no confidence at all’ in the people who run our government to tell the truth to the public”; and found that “three out of four Americans (74%) agree that ‘you can’t believe much of what you hear from the mainstream media’.” (p.22, Vanishing Center of American Democracy, 2016 Survey of American Political Culture). Also, according to the same study: “the overwhelming majority of Americans (88%) believe that ‘political events these days seem more like theater or entertainment than like something to be taken seriously’.” (17)

For many of us, we aren't surprised by these kinds of statistics. We need not look beyond our own extended families to find painful anecdotes illustrating the drift towards tribal worldviews that are mutually exclusive, and profound cynicism about the political process and the media spectacle in relationship to truth.

At this time when our country is so divided and cynical, as a church community we have an opportunity to redouble our commitment to live into our mission statement*, as we continue to celebrate a union of a diverse group of people who have been called to love one another by the one true political sovereign, King Jesus. Together we continue to work out what it looks like to bring the ethics of Jesus' kingdom to bear on the public good, working out what it looks like to share Christ’s selfless love with a deeply broken world.

But surely part of what it means to see the world through Jesus’ eyes so soon after election day requires us to acknowledge in a non-partisan way that a great many people here and abroad feel afraid and uncertain; they are people who the Bible privileges in a unique way, the vulnerable and the marginalized. Throughout the Scriptures, aliens, orphans, widows, and the poor are symbols of God's unique advocacy for and identification with those who are at the mercy of the powerful. As the leadership of this Christian church, we want you to know that we are concerned for those in our church, in our country, and around the world, who today fear for their well being. May Grace Chicago Church be a welcoming place for the weak and vulnerable; may God bless us as we seek to live more fully into our mission.


We offer this prayer and invite you to join with us. It is based on a very old prayer from the Book of Common Prayer.

O Christ  our King, whose glory is in all the world:

We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace.

Grant to the President of the United States, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve the people with humility, and in a way that treats all people with inherent dignity and worth, as those who bear your divine image.

May you enable us to seek the things that make for peace and the common good; may each of us reach out  to those who are not like us and form bonds of unity where your Spirit make it possible;  through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.



*The mission of Grace Chicago Church is to actively seek the good of individuals and the welfare of the city by embracing the good news of God’s redemptive promise.


Service Recap; October 9


Luke 17:5-10

The message translation of the gospel from Luke goes like this:

“The Apostles came up and said to the Master, “give us more faith.” But the Master said, “You don’t need more faith. There is not ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, “Go jump in the lake,” and it would do it.”

We can all relate to the disciple’s request. It’s remarkable, isn’t it, that even those walking beside Jesus felt the need for more faith. Even the disciples, who watched Jesus walk on water, who saw him multiply the loaves and fishes, who were at his side as he dispelled sicknesses, asked for more faith. In Jesus response, he seems to be saying, “You’re asking for the wrong thing. The fix for the weakness that you sense in yourselves cannot be mended by more faith.” In his homily, Bob reminded us that faith is not a product of working harder. It is not a good that can be multiplied. It is, Bob suggested, something in us that can be active in the right ways.  And when it is active in us in the right ways, it enables us to live in certain ways that would be impossible without faith.

Faith points us beyond ourselves. Faith causes our attention to shift, almost effortlessly off of ourselves and onto Christ. Faith is absent when we are looking at ourselves. When we focus on our own abilities, our own beliefs, our piety, or our own greatness or wretchedness, faith is not active in us. However, when we look at Christ, at His faithfulness and goodness, then we see ourselves rightly and we see others rightly as well. Faith looks toward Christ.  The disciples, looking at themselves, thought that they needed more faith. “Master,” they say, looking down at their own faith or lack of it, “give us more faith.” Jesus draws their eyes up, off of themselves and onto himself.

When we look at Christ, we see the servant of all. We see in Christ the example of how we ought to live. When we “fix our eyes on him, the author and perfector of our faith” we begin to ask the right questions. We see that our faith is complete in Christ and we are empowered to live lives of service toward others. 


We praise you, God, for the gift of new life in Loralei Akiko Inouya born to Jason and Andrea this week. We thank you that both she and mom are healthy.   May you continue to bless this family and bless Loralei with good health.  May she grow up to know you and also bring others to your saving grace.  

We pray for all those affected by hurricane Matthew. We ask for needed supplies to come to those who have needs. We pray for safety for those still in the middle of the winds and flooding. For those who have lost love ones, we ask for your presence to attend them in this time.  

We pray for Pastor Bob, Caleb, Michael Demaray, and Andy who will attend the denominational meetings this week in San Francisco.  We also pray for Jihun Kang as he comes as a local pastor and guest.  May your Spirit guide the discussions, decisions and fellowship at these meetings.

We continue to lift up in prayer the people of Columbia as they voted down the peace deal between the government and the FARC guerrillas. We thank you for peaceful voting last week and for the willingness for both sides to continue to negotiate.  We ask that the churches in Columbia may be a beacons of hope and peace in their communities.

Lord In your mercy, hear our prayers.


  • Community Dinners are the week of October 17-22. Community Dinners are an initiative with the goal of getting people to share a meal with folks from the grace community that they may not know. Simply choose which day works for you, and Caleb will tell you who is hosting your dinner! Simple as that! Simply fill out this form with dates that work for you.
  • November 5th, Grace is hosting Dr. Kristen Deede Johnson for a lecture on faith in the public sphere. Kristen is a professor at Western Theological Seminary and has written about and worked in the space around faith and culture. This lecture will help us think critically about our political and public engagement for the good of Chicago. More info here.  

A Prayer for France

Yesterday, there was an attack in France directed against Christians participating in mass. You can read about it here. This tragedy struck especially near to the heart of our own Marc Billon. Marc is French and offered these words to help us pray. Take a moment to lament and pray for those affected by this act of terror:

Friends of Grace Church,

France is again shocked today and plunged into profound horror after Jacques Hamel an elderly priest was killed while celebrating mass this morning.

"The murderer cut the throat of the priest. This is an act sufficiently thought out to further destabilize French society" said the president of the Normandy region. 11 attacks have occurred in France since January 2015.

With my french compatriots, I cry out to God.

Lord, I pray for Jacques Hamel, for the nuns and other victims of this horrible violence. I pray for their families and communities who today are mourning the horrible loss of their priest. Lord, may the consoling presence of your Holy Spirit be with all the victims.

In Union of Prayers,


Service Recap; July 17

"The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it."

We read these harsh words from Amos 8 this week for our first lesson. Amos, the shepherd, is convicted that these are the words of the Lord, and so he speaks them clearly and loudly to "those that trample on the needy, and bring ruin to the poor of the land." 

Chapter 8 of Amos contains the sort of damning rhetoric that makes me wince. "That's the Old Testament for you," we might say. At first I wince because the God in this passage does not sound like the God of steadfast love. But Bob pointed out that the words are directed against those who are taking advantage of the poor. I feel good about that. The God that defends the poor...that is my kind of God. But then Bob reminded us that Amos' searing declaration is directed at God's people. Not at those outside the sanctuary walls, but at those inside them. 

Amos was followed up by Luke's brief sketch of an interaction between Jesus, Mary, and Martha. Mary sits at Jesus' feet listening to him tell stories. Martha works tirelessly. "Mary has chosen the wiser," Jesus says. "Well, yes, Jesus," I say in my head, "of course she has. Martha's doing all the work." 

Amos and Luke present the possibility of NOT being in the presence of God. Amos makes clear the reality that where the poor are trampled and taken advantage of, the Word of God will not be present. In Matthew 25, Jesus says that when we ignore the hungry, naked, and imprisoned, we ignore Him, because He is present with them. Of course, then, when the people of God participate consciously or unconsciously in the oppression of the weak, God's presence and Word will not be in their midst. The scene from Luke paints a more tangible and mundane scene, where Martha is simply too worried and busy to be in the presence of Christ. Bob suggested that we "make it or break it by paying the right kind of attention in the mundane." Martha is too busy to pay attention-to notice that the living God was telling stories in her house. 

I don't think the point of these stories is that God will recuse Himself from us if we don't do the right things. I think the point is that God is right in front of us. He is with the woman on the corner we pass each day, whose story would move us in ways that might threaten our comfort. He is with the co-worker who, if we would give him our true attention, would confess his humanity to us in ways that would for us to view him not as a co-worker, but as a fellow image-of-God-human-being. The truth is that we have the great power to pay attention or not. We have the great power to ignore God's presence in the world, and in that way live in a world void of the Word of God. But we can also sit at the feet of Christ and hear his stories. We can pay the right kind of attention to the suffering in the world and participate in it, and in that way become the hope of glory. 

From the Heidelberg Catechism

What does the 8th Commandment require of me? That I do whatever I can for my neighbor's good. That I treat others as I would like them to treat me, and that I work faithfully so that I may share with those in need.

Communion Song

Prayers of the People

We continue to pray for and end to the violence in our world.  We pray especially today for the victims and families of the attack in France.  Remember in your mercy all who mourn and grieve the death of family and friends.  Nourish them with patience, comfort them with a sense of your goodness, strengthen them to meet the days ahead.   

Lord in your mercy....Hear our prayer

We pray for peace in the streets of Turkey. Give wisdom, creativity, and perseverance to all who work for unity, peace, concord and the freedom of all people.    We remember missionaries from our denomination, Rick and Stephanie and their family who work tirelessly to bring your good news to that region.  May you continue to provide safety to them and wisdom in the midst of uncertainty. 

Lord in your mercy...Hear our prayer

Open our eyes, O Lord, to see that you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth.  Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you, bring nations into your fold, pour out your Spirit on all flesh, and hasten the coming of your kingdom.  

Lord in your mercy...Hear our prayer

{As we continue to pray in light of the tragic events across the country, we offer this article from the publication, Perspectives, to continue a dialogue around difficult topics. The article  discusses the difference between guilt and responsibility, and encourages us to allow the stories of recent weeks to become personal.}


  • Grace is cooking at the Joshua Center this Thursday. Nathan Bowman is taking the lead this month. Email Caleb if you are interested in helping cook food for the women who live at the shelter at Breakthrough.
  • Men's Meetup is next week Thursday (28th). We'll meet at Green Street Smoked Meats and walk to Beer Bistro afterwards. Email for more information.
  • Lisa Zook is hosting a Dinner with Grace on July 31st. Join us in the evening for a casual meal. This is a great opportunity to meet some new folks! More info on the events page. 

Service Recap; April 24

Sermon Meditation

In John 13, Jesus tells his disciples that he is giving them a new command: that you love one another.  What was so new about that command? This is an old command, not a new one. Bob put the emphasis on who we love. In this way, it was certainly a new command.

The story of the Good Samaritan makes the point well. In this story, a man from a hated group (Trump-supporters, Hillary-supporters, Ethnic/Racial minority: whomever you find most difficult to love and respect) becomes the courageous protagonist who helps at great cost to themselves. The parable has become the paradigm of love for the church. Your neighbor can be anyone, and in fact is everyone you come in contact with. No one ought to be outside of our scope of love and care.

The rubber hit the road for the church immediately as they tried to figure out what to do with Gentile believers. Christianity was a Jewish sect in its early years and it did not envision itself evolving into a religion for the non-Jewish world. Peter is reluctant to change. He understands that the Christian church is growing, but he is also committed to being obedient to the law. He’s walking the line carefully. Until in a vision, God tells him to eat animals that were not Kosher. Peter refuses, thinking he passed the test God was putting before him. But God responds, “What God has made clean, do not call unclean.” God tells Peter to go to a man named Cornelius, who is a gentile, and Peter goes. In his meeting of Cornelius, Peter realizes that the vision was not primarily about what sorts of meat he could eat. "God," declares Peter, "shows no partiality among persons."

This posture towards human beings-not seeing them as their politics, or skin color, or status in life, nor by how hard they work or don’t work, but first and foremost viewing them as beautiful creations who are invited to experience the grace and love of God, that is what made the church so attractive. The disciples are known by who and how they love. Let us pray that we grow into that sort of love as a community.

Best Line From A Song:

“O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; I give thee back the life I owe, that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer fuller be.”


Of God of the captive and oppressed, the weight of the world’s new is too much for us. We pray:

  • for Ecuador and those recovering from the earthquake,
  • for Chicago and in particular the school system and especially for teachers
  • for an end to Slavery in the world
  • for those in Grace Chicago’s community struggling with the loss of a loved one, disease, or unemployment
  • Announcements:

  • May 1st, Stephan Gombis is joining us this Sunday. Come at 9:30! Breakfast and Coffee available.
  • May 1st, Potluck will be held, hopefully outside if it is nice! Bring a side or dessert to share. We will provide sandwiches.
  • Kite Festival is May 7th! We’re all going.
  • Men’s Gathering is this Thursday at Sheffield’s at 7:30. All men are invited.
  • More volunteers are needed. Contact Caleb ( If interested.